The Art Gallery of Northumberland began in 1960 as an extension of the Cobourg Public Library and was known as the Art Gallery of Cobourg.

Like most public galleries it has depended upon the generosity of interested individuals who have donated works and funds for the purchase of works.

The first acquisition was an oil painting entitled “Boats” by Finnish artist Paavo Airola who resided in Colborne for several years. Other early acquisitions included a number of Canadian and several British works.

In 1970 the gallery was one of the beneficiaries of the Douglas Duncan bequest that included works by David Milne. L.L.Fitzgerald, Carl Schaefer and L.A.C.Panton.

In 1972 the gallery drafted its first collections policy, which has undergone three major revisions since that time. We focus on Canadian artists and international artists that have had a direct influence on Canadian artists.

The collection currently stands at 698 works and is valued at about 1.5 million in value.
Within the permanent collection there are three sub-collections; the Margaret and Henry Marsh Collection of Inuit Art and Artifacts, the Mary and Roman Schneider Ceramics Collection and the Charlotte Horner Bequest.

We have, over the years, conducted reviews of the collection to assess works in light of current scholarship and strength added to the collection. We have deaccessioned from time to time, through transfer of deed of ownership to other public galleries and twice through public auction. The proceeds of which have been use to acquire other works.

The collections committee consists of 8 members plus the curator and the president of the gallery. The committee’s membership is a balance of professional artists and art scholars and collectors. The policy demands conflict of interest declarations during deliberations.

We provide tax receipts with appropriate appraisals and have sought Cultural Property designation as requested.

We count among the artists in our collection, Jean Arp, Frederick Bell-Smith, Molly and Bruno Bobak, Caroline Armington, Ron Bolt, K.M Graham, Frances Gage, Rosemary Kilbourn, Carl Beam, Robert Harris, Robert Motherwell, Peter Kolisnyk, David Blackwood, F.A. Verner, Otto Jacobi, Paul Kane, Lucius O’Brien, William Ronald, Michael Snow, Harold Town, Fred Hagen, Lillian Freiman, John Esler, Tony Urquhart, A.J.Casson, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Peter Haller, Morus Hummel, E.Wyly Grier and others. All of which evidence the diversity to be found in a collection that has been developing over a 45 year span.

Our permanent collection is now available online at the AGN Permanent Collection website. Making the collection available online was made possible by the generous support of the government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.